A-G may not try to oust indicted mayors if they suspend themselves

Weinstein’s submission comes in response to NGO petition to fire 3 indicted mayors who were reelected despite having been fired from posts preelection.

November 5, 2013 03:19
2 minute read.
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein [file]

Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein 370 (R). (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)

Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein on Monday hinted in a legal submission to the High Court of Justice that he would not try to oust two indicted mayors if they suspended themselves.

Weinstein’s submission came in response to the NGO Ometz’s petition to fire three indicted mayors, Shlomo Lahiani (Bat Yam), Yitzchak Rochberger (Ramat Hasharon) and Shimon Gapso (Upper Nazareth), who recently won reelection despite having been fired preelection from their posts by the High Court.

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Just last week Rochberger voluntarily suspended himself as mayor pending the outcome of the corruption trial against him.

The attorney-general’s statement suggested that he approved of Rochberger’s voluntary suspension and would not press for Lahiani and Gapso’s removal if they did the same.

According to Weinstein, the fact that the three mayors were reelected needed to be taken into account by the High Court and could even conceivably influence it to allow the mayors to stay in office, despite the court’s firing of the mayors preelection for being under indictment for corruption.

However, Weinstein said that the public’s vote of confidence in the mayors was not the end of the analysis, and that even that vote of confidence could potentially be overcome by the court if the court believed re-firing them was required by law and to uphold certain standards for public servants.

The state previously said that it would have been better had the indicted mayors declined to run for office, so as to avoid the current situation where they have been reelected but are under a cloud of impropriety.

He added that he hoped that the city councils connected with each mayor would review the situation and potentially remove or suspend the mayors, so as to avoid continuation of the situation or the need for a court ruling.

In lieu of that, Weinstein noted that a voluntary suspension would exactly parallel the current bill he is pushing for passage in the Knesset.

Weinstein said that the bill is to include provisions for a threeperson committee to rule on whether to suspend local officials under indictment.

The three will be comprised of a retired district court judge, a retired city council member and an unaffiliated highly credentialed lawyer.

The committee would decide whether to suspend officials under indictment for a year and could extend the suspension beyond a year if the case was still not complete.

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